WIP Wednesday: HL&S
So, last week Wood, Screws, & Nails came out. Currently, I’m working on one of the spin-offs. If you read WS&N, this story features Aaron’s best friend, Blake, and Blake’s love interest, Castor. They were rivals as teens, but when they meet again as adults, they find that their explosive chemistry manifests into something a lot more fun than fighting (although they do some of that too). This is a peek at the scene when Blake finds out Cas is moving back into the neighborhood, about 19 years after they last saw each other.
Let me know what you think! 😀
“Are you listening, Blejkuś?”
Blake shifted again, unable to find comfort on a couch that was simply too small to accommodate his six-foot-two frame. Mila shot him an annoyed look and leaped gracefully onto the floor—but not before digging her claws into his chest in a show of feline displeasure. Blake winced and resisted the urge to toss a pillow at her. Damn cat would probably dodge it anyway. “What, Ma?”
“I asked if you remember Cas from across the street.”
Oh, that. Blake grunted. “Course I do.” How could he forget the little shit who’d made his summers miserable between eighth grade and senior year of high school? Bane of his existence, that kid.
“Well, he’s moving in this weekend.” Karina walked over and adjusted the cushion behind his back. Her apron was flour-stained, and she smelled like onions and sauerkraut from the pierogi she’d been making. The sharp, sour scent might not have been pleasant to anyone who wasn’t a fan of the fermented cabbage, but to Blake, it reminded him of his grandmother and yearly trips to the Taste of Polonia Festival in Jefferson Park. Of home. “It would be nice if you went over and said hello,” she added.
“Ma, I haven’t seen the kid in, what, nineteen years?” Not since the summer after his senior year, when his grandmother passed away of a massive coronary just a week before he and Aaron went into trade school. Had that really been almost two decades ago? He still missed her. “We don’t even know each other anymore.”
Karina smacked him lightly upside the head. “So get to know him again. It’s never easy moving into a new neighborhood. Most of the kids who grew up around here are long gone. And your babcia liked him, bless her soul. She always thought he was a good boy.”
Blake snorted. His grandmother had thought that about everyone. He couldn’t even recollect the number of times he’d been blamed for something that “good boy” had done. Dozens probably. Kid had the face of an angel back then and a Cupid’s bow mouth to match. Got him out of all kinds of trouble.
“What?” Karina asked. “Don’t tell me you’re still holding a grudge over that silly baseball thing? That was ages ago.”
“No. Not a grudge. But we were never really friends.”
Karina patted his head and moved away toward the kitchen. “Well, you’re not teenagers anymore. You can be friends now.”
“We’ll see,” Blake said to placate her, but he had no intention of playing head of the neighborhood welcoming committee. He’d leave that to the women on the block.
Much as Blake’s own parents had when he was a kid, Castor’s folks had also sent him to spend summers with his grandparents in Villa Park. They’d meant it as a preemptive measure to keep them from running wild through the streets of Chicago all day long. In that, the effort had only been partially successful. They’d both fallen into all sorts of misbehavior anyway, regardless of the change in location.
From the very first meeting, they’d clashed, despite being forced into the sort of reluctant camaraderie that came from boredom and a dearth of other similarly-aged kids nearby. True friendship had never existed between them—only rivalry and constant one-upmanship. Now that Blake had his own place and his own circle of friends, he didn’t need to play nice for the benefit of not being shunned by the locals. He doubted Castor had changed all that much from the smart-mouthed, know-it-all of their misspent youth. Why bother trying to find out if he might be wrong? As soon as the cast came off, Blake was headed back to his apartment in Wrigleyville. Besides, Castor probably didn’t hold the memory of Blake in fond regard either. The animosity between them had never been anything but mutual.
Blake tipped his head back and stared up at the ceiling. His mother really needed to let him replace that popcorn paintjob soon. He couldn’t stand the sight of the stuff, and it wasn’t difficult to remove—just tedious and time-consuming. Much like his healing process would be.
“Cas, Cas, pain in my ass,” he murmured, then chuckled to himself. He hadn’t thought of that old taunt in years. Castor always hated it. Blake remembered the way he would flush, his pale Irish skin going ruddy, clearly broadcasting the depth of his irritation. Blake had enjoyed riling him up back then. Pretty kid. Too bad about the attitude. They could’ve had a lot of fun those summers, if Castor batted for the same team Blake did—which Blake suspected was the case—instead of doing their best to piss each other off. For a moment, Blake wondered how that lithe, adolescent prettiness had translated to adulthood. Not that he cared enough to want to find out.